Why Testing is Addictive

Like many other testers, I rather enjoy my work and in particular the rush and thrill of digging out those juicy bugs! Imagine my delight therefore when I read the following from Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken:

By undertaking a difficult challenge, such as trying to finish a task in a shorter time than usual, we produce in our own bodies a rush of adrenaline, the excitement hormone that makes us feel confident, energetic and highly motivated.

By accomplishing something that is very hard for us, like solving a puzzle or finishing a race, our brains release a potent cocktail of norephinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine. These three neurochemicals in combination make us feel satisfied, proud and highly aroused.

And if we provoke our curiosity by exposing ourselves to ambiguous visual stimulus, like a wrapped present or a door that is barely ajar, we experience a rush of “interest” biochemicals also known as “internal opiates.” These include endorphins, which make us feel powerful and in-control, and beta -endorphin, a “well-being” neurotransmitter that is eighty times more powerful than morphine.

Any of those sound like testing activities to you? They do to me…

Jane goes on to make the point that few people set out to intentionally trigger these systems. But imagine if you did…

Would testing become an addiction?

Are you already addicted?


Thanks for reading. Feel free to reach out via a comment or on the socials if anything resonates.



  • Great article Simon.

    I was researching something similar to this from a different perspective. I was looking into gambling addictions and how it happens and uncovered some similar research regarding the reward system of the brain. I have a note in my blog ideas to write an article about it. I feel if we could capture and attempt to reproduce this every time we test we can get more and more people addicted to testing….

    I did talk about this concept with a few people at Eurostar so I must remember to find the time to blog about it thanks for reminding me.

  • Phil Kirkham says:

    Is it testing that gets the rush or is it only when you find a bug ? what then happens if you dont find any, what do you do to get your fix ? Do we need a 12 step program for Testers Anonymous ?

    My name is Phil and I’m a Testing Addict – last night I was up at midnight testing Wikipedia

  • srinivas kadiyala says:

    Thanks for the post.

    I am also a Testing addictive.

    Last Night,around 3 am – I was curiously participating in crowd testing to find the bugs and make the product more quality.

  • […] also kind of addictive! My previous post […]

  • James Thomas says:

    Hi Simon,

    Unlike some other addictions, testing gives you at least two payoffs:

    One, the kick of finding the bug or the hole in the spec or the performance sink or whatever.

    Two, the warm feeling you get from the knowledge that your action has a positive effect on someone else, someone who ended up not seeing the behaviour you’ve discovered.

    The second is much less transient than the first, which helps during those cold turkey phases..

  • […] I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the biological reactions experienced during a test exercise could be perceived as being very […]

  • […] McGonigal’s Reality is Broken – (Why Testing is Addictive & Super […]

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